“Remember: lie, cheat, steal and listen to Heavy Metal music!” – The Devil.
Written by: John Swartzwelder
Weirdly enough, I couldn’t remember much about this episode beyond the fact that Bart gets hit by Mr. Burns in the opening scene, but when I first heard Phil Hartman’s voice as the Escalator to Heaven I literally yelled “PHIL HARTMAN!” at the TV.
It’s really not saying much to say that Phil Hartman was my favorite of all of the guest voices on The Simpsons, but it’s kind of interesting to notice that his characterization of Lionel Hutz was there from the very very start, even as Azaria was still not quit there with Dr. Nick, who also makes his debut in this episode.
And really, just the thrill of knowing that Hartman was going to start turning up again and again was good enough for me, despite the fact that this episode was pretty rote: Burns is evil, Homer is scheming, Marge is honest, etc.
Of course, the specifics of Burns evilness, Homer’s schemes and Marge’s honesty are reliably funny, as is Bart’s trip to Hell after Burns hits him, but we really don’t learn anything – I mean besides that Bart isn’t supposed to arrive in Hell until the next time the Yankees won the pennant “and that’s nearly a century from now!”
And the end, where Homer has to look into Marge’s eyes to be reminded that he still loves her even though her honesty cost them $1,000,000 is maybe the first “Simpsons did it” in the history of The Simpsons, as they’d pretty much done the same thing at the end of “Bart vs. Thanksgiving.”
Still, PHIL HARTMAN!